• Dark Room Sessions

Drive-in concerts: a new normal for live?

Experts are predicting that large-scale gatherings won't go back to normal until at least 12 months from now. Experts were also predicting millions of deaths due to Coronavirus by end of April (and I think we all agree thank you for failing miserably on that point). So I'm not really buying all this "expert" chat. It spreads fear and its sole aim is to fill in gaps in the newspapers.

What we do expect is that big social gatherings will be the last thing to go back to what they were before. Packed pubs, sweaty concerts, communal tables at restaurants and sold out music festivals all seem like distant memories. Honestly, I don't mind not having to push dozens of sweaty people out of my way to get to the toilet. Or actually having my own personal space to dance freely (as opposed to just moving my shoulders and shaking my body self-consciously while invading other people's personal space).

But months and months? The industry will not be able to freeze for that long, and we won't be able to wait until then for live-music gigs. I'm personally anticipating the big void left by the lack of music festivals in the UK these months to come.

So artists have already started to get creative. And a trend that seems to have come here to stay is drive in concerts. Initially, it sounds fun and nostalgic. Drive ins are a relic of the past and take us back to more innocent and care-free times. But I’m not quite sold on the idea of this as a concept for live music concerts. For starters, it sounds like it’s limited to certain music genres, not only because of music/ audience dynamics but also in relation to the entourage an artist travels with. Touring with 10 or 20 people would kind of defeat the purpose of social distancing. There are also quite a few logistic limitations. In big cities, like London for example, having a car is not only a luxury but also an item many would rather do without. So that would exclude many people or add an extra cost of hiring a ZipCar for the duration of the outing. Also, how many drive-ins does your city actually have? I can’t really think of many in London, making venue space quite limited, probably resulting in high hire costs which would immediately restrict the practice to a small number of artists.

On the other hand, providing you can get over all of the negatives, it could be quite a cool night out. You can play music in your car as loud as you want, you don’t have to queue to go to the toilets, no one’s pressing their sweaty body against your face and there is no drink spillage! Plus, probably a much cleaner space post-show. It is also a great chance for artists to get creative and think of other ways to connect with their fans, they can now actually walk around the audience and say hi without the fear of die-hard fans doing something weird.

Marc Rebillet just announced a full-on tour where all his venues are drive-in theatres and Dutch artist Mads Langer hosted a live show at the end of April. As you might expect, all these shows are sold out immediately: we're all aching for some sort of entertainment outside the walls of our own home, to just go out and do stuff in the company of other people. These coming months will be a time where people will have to get creative and think of new ways to present their shows. Drive in concerts? Better than nothing, but not for me.

What's your thoughts on live drive in? Read more about this new concept and see what others have to say!

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